Former Malaysian PM Najib’s corruption trial delayed
Malaysians will have to wait a little longer for their trial of the century.
Disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Razak was due to appear in the dock Tuesday on multiple corruption charges related to the 1MDB financial scandal, but the country’s Court of Appeal issued a last-minute stay Monday afternoon, his lawyer Shafee Abdullah told CNN.
Najib’s defense team has filed multiple appeals over procedural issues in the run-up to the trial, and judges ruled that it should be delayed until one of them can be heard.
Tuesday’s trial was on just a handful of the many charges facing Najib over the billions of dollars allegedly embezzled from the 1MDB fund. Other trials are scheduled for later this year, and the entire legal process could last months, if not years.
The delay will be seen as something of a victory for Najib, who has consistently maintained his innocence. Since the prosecution began, he has attempted to paint it as a political vendetta against him, led by his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad, who turfed him out of office in a shock election victory in 2018.
A date has not been set for the trial to resume and Najib’s lawyer told CNN the appeal process could take weeks.
Speaking ahead of the Court of Appeals ruling, Tony Pua, a finance ministry official and longtime critic of Najib, told CNN the complexity of the scandal and the multiple cases against the former PM could work in his favor.
“He has done a fantastic job in keeping his hopes alive for a comeback,” Pua said. “His strategy is very obvious, it will take a while to jail him, so he probably hopes that before he gets jailed there could be a change of government.”
While Pua is confident of the current government’s ability to repeat its last year’s success in future elections, Najib has been in near constant campaign mode since he made bail on the corruption charges.
That has involved a reinvention of sorts and Najib — a scion of the Malaysian elite, whose wife Rosmah Mansor allegedly owned a multimillion-dollar pink diamond necklace, among other luxury goods — has portrayed himself as a man of the people.